The Hack Show at the MacHack conference is where attendees have a chance to show off their hacks — small programming projects that attendees can create to show off their skills. Votes are collected to see which hacks are the best, and those are crowned at an awards banquet.
Not everyone does a hack. Sometimes, the pressures of late night keynotes and getting much needed information from sessions and Apple presentations and representatives can take up almost all of the 72-hour conference.
Nevertheless, many create creative and beautiful hacks. One of the most interesting hacks was Mac Murrett’s Apple Turnover. This hack will invert the screen, and begin to rotate it as you work. System performance is not heavily taxed at all, as the hack takes advantage of AltiVec to manipulate the screen buffer. Unfortunately, the corners are often off-screen as it is rotated from the center, and not resized.
Steve Wozniak also presented a hack in the wee hours of the morning. His hack was in response to a comment made by Bill Atkinson during the Mac creator reunion. Atkinson said that he thought the UI for some of the Mac was odd. Most notably, the fact that you drag a disk to the trash to eject it. He thought that the intuitive thing to do when dragging a disk to the trash would be to erase the disk, not eject it.
Wozniak’s hack was to change the routines of the trash so that if you drag a disk to the trash, it gave you the option of either ejecting the disk or erasing it. While this flew in the face of the UI design guidelines that Jef Raskin had been evangelizing all conference, it got applause from the caffeine laden audience.
Other notable hacks include HANS, the Hackable AirPort Network Selector that tells you via voice if any AirPort networks are available, and what their names are; Password Thief, which monitors network activity and collects POP passwords and user names; Light Sleeper, a hack that makes the Apple logo pulse when a new iMac or G4 PowerBook is put to sleep instead of the little light. Sadly, Light Sleeper drains power much more than normal sleep, as the screen is being powered up and turned off instead of a tiny LED. Finally, one of the favorites was iTunes Dance Dock Plug-in, an iTunes plug for Mac OS X that makes the icons in the dock resize to the music like a graphic equalizer.
Sadly, one hacker broke the screen of his G4 PowerBook at the beginning of the conference. Only the top third of his screen still worked. Did this stop him? Did he cry out against the uncaring fates? No, he wrote a hack that resized his desktop into the now diminished area of his screen.
There were dozens more hacks shown, including Apple scripts that do wild and unnatural things to your icons and Palm OS hacks that make your Palm mimic a Mac desktop.